Hells Angels member rendered unconscious in police takedown acquitted of assault

KITCHENER — A member of the Hells Angels rendered unconscious in a takedown by two Waterloo Regional Police officers wound up being charged with assaulting one of them.

But a judge ruled earlier this month that if Paul Geil took a swing at Const. Wesley Errey, he had a "lawful excuse" after the off-duty officer grabbed his arm.

The judge also concluded Errey and Const. David Gilker, an on-duty officer, did not intend to injure Geil.

All three charges against Geil — assault, impaired driving and driving with more than the legal limit of alcohol — were dismissed.

Hells Angels

Hells Angels

The Canadian Press file photo

The Hells Angels "death head" insignia on the back of a jacket.
 

On the night of Nov. 14, 2015, Errey followed a white pickup truck that was being driven erratically on Ira Needles Boulevard in Waterloo.

Errey testified he believed the driver was the lone occupant of the truck when it stopped at Geil's home on Bisch Street, west of the Laurel Creek Conservation Area in Waterloo. Errey said he saw Geil get out of the truck and suspected he was impaired.

Geil, 57, testified that a friend was driving while he was a passenger. He said he and his friend got out of the truck and entered the house.

It was pitch black in the area and Errey acknowledged he briefly took his eyes off the truck.

Breath tests showed Geil was over the legal limit, but Justice John Lynch ruled the prosecution did not prove the drinking and driving charges beyond a reasonable doubt. A suspicion that Geil was the driver is not enough to convict, the judge said.

Geil said that after he and his friend entered the house, Geil returned to the truck to get something. As he was walking back to his house, Geil said, he saw a car pull into his driveway.

He testified a man approached and said, "I'm a concerned citizen and you're all over the road."

Geil, who said he was wearing a tuque with the Hells Angels "death head" insignia, testified he told the man he wasn't driving and asked him, "Are you a cop?"

The man did not respond, Geil said, and did not identify himself as off-duty police officer Errey.

"I told him: 'This is private property. Why don't you just f--- off.' "

Geil testified he took a few steps away from Errey. He said Errey then grabbed his arm, spun him around, kicked his legs and slammed him to the ground. He denied taking a swing at Errey.

Geil, who stands six feet two and weighs 250 pounds, said his face was smashed into his gravel driveway several times. Photos in court showed severe facial scrapes and blood on the driveway.

He said another man also showed up. He said the man did not identify himself and he did not see his face as it was dark. The man turned out to be on-duty officer Gilker.

Geil claims someone struck him in the back of the head. He was rendered unconscious and taken by ambulance to hospital.

Errey gave a different version of events. He said Geil asked him "who the f--- do you think you are, a cop?" Errey said he replied, "I am."

Errey said Geil became aggressive and said Geil told him, "You can go f--- yourself."

Geil, represented by defence lawyer Tom Brock, denied this.

The officer said that when he grabbed Geil's upper arm, Geil swung his other arm at Errey's face.

Errey said Geil was resisting arrest, so he and Gilker took him to the ground. He said he believes Geil's head hit the ground. The officers denied hitting him. Errey said there was a struggle to get Geil's hands behind his back so they could cuff him.

Gilker said he arrived at the scene while Errey and Geil were struggling and didn't have time to identify himself as a police officer.

"The accused was in his own driveway having been spoken to by someone who initially, at least, had identified himself as a concerned citizen," the judge said.

"Mr. Geil turned and took several steps toward his home when he was grabbed from behind. His response, which was at the most to spin around and swing his arm, making no contact, is not sufficient upon which to find a conviction. Instead, I find the accused had a lawful excuse for the swing."

The force used by the police officers was "way out of line," Brock told court.

Lynch concluded the officers did not intend to injure Geil and appropriately dealt with a difficult situation.

"It is always easy to sit back after the fact and discuss what should or should not have occurred," the judge said. "It is not so easy when in the position of an officer, particularly in circumstances such as these."

Geil is the owner of a local roofing company and full-patch member of the Hells Angels in Windsor for the last 15 years.

Crown prosecutor Ashley Warne asked him how he feels about police officers in general.

"I've got respect for them," he said. "I've got respect for the law. I own a business."

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